You asked, we'll try to answer. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about Maryland Sea Grant's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.
Applying to the Program
I'm a sophomore. What are my chances of getting a fellowship?
Maryland Sea Grant looks to provide National Science Foundation (NSF) REU fellowships to rising college seniors. Students with five semesters of coursework are much better prepared for the summer REU research experience. We encourage sophomores to seek other research opportunities and apply when they are rising seniors or seniors graduating after the fellowship.
I live in the United States however, I'm not a U.S. citizen. Am I still eligible?
NSF regulations require that all students receiving a fellowship with Maryland Sea Grant be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
I'm a senior who is graduating in May before the fellowship begins. Am I eligible?
NSF regulations require all fellows be current undergraduate students, so you would not be eligible to participate in the summer program. Fellows must graduate after the completion of the summer program.
I've already had an REU Fellowship. Can I still apply for your fellowship?
In general, NSF has a "no repeat" guideline. This means that a student who has already had an REU Fellowship will not be considered for another one. There are exceptions to this rule, and each decision will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
When might I expect to hear about a fellowship offer from Maryland Sea Grant and how much time do I have to decide?
Applications are due February 15, 2017. Each year, students who are eliminated in the first round of application review are notified in March. Maryland Sea Grant sends out fellowship offers on or after March 15th. Students are typically notified in April regarding their final status. After you have been offered a Maryland Sea Grant REU Fellowship, you have up to five days to decide whether to accept it. If you have questions or concerns regarding your status, please contact Dr. Michael Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jenna Clark at email@example.com.
How do you select mentors?
Before applying, students are encouraged to look at the list of mentors who have worked with REU students. The list includes descriptions of research projects conducted by those students. Applicants should describe in their personal statements the particular areas or specific mentors that may match their interests. The selection committee matches students and mentors based primarily on their mutual interests.
If I am offered a fellowship and accept, what kind of workload can I expect? Will I have to work weekends?
You are expected to work at least 40 hours per week. You will be spending the summer at a marine lab where the atmosphere is serious but relaxed, where scientists work hard but enjoy flexible schedules. For example, some days you may be expected to work long hours in the field, running a particular laboratory experiment or preparing a report. Other days you may find yourself with a free afternoon because of the particulars of your experiment’s schedule. You are expected to be responsible for your time while setting a schedule that is compatible with the lab you are working in and the research you are doing.
Will I see other REU students during the summer?
All REU students spend orientation week together. After orientation the students are generally split between the two research facilities -- Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL) and Horn Point Laboratory (HPL), but gather for events and weekend activities.
What if I want to accept a fellowship but my school is on the quarter system and I'm not able to come to Maryland until June. Can I still participate in the program and miss the orientation and second week of the fellowship?
Sometimes students in this situation are able to work out arrangements with their professors to take exams early or to take them while they are in Maryland. However, there is a tight schedule of orientation, research design, proposal writing, and data collection. Students are expected to arrive as close to the program start date as possible. Details should be discussed with the program director, Dr. Michael Allen, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Living at HPL and CBL
Please review our guide to living at the laboratories: Maryland Sea Grant REU Guidebook for Chesapeake Biological Laboratory & Horn Point Laboratory. Some specific questions are answered below.
Are there phones in the dorm rooms?
CBL dorm rooms do not have phones. There are two phones located in the dormitory area that can receive incoming calls. HPL dorm rooms have their own phones with their own phone number.
Will I be able to pick my roommate for the summer?
About a month before orientation, we will send you a questionnaire to fill out. This will help us to pair you with a suitable roommate.
Is there a community bathroom on each floor or a bathroom in each room?
CBL and HPL have a bathroom on each floor of the dorm and in the common areas.
What about laundry facilities?
Both HPL and CBL provide washers and dryers. You'll need to provide your own laundry detergent.
Are linens supplied?
CBL provides bed linens and towels, but HPL does not supply linens. Students should bring bed linens and towels to HPL. One blanket is provided at HPL. The air conditioning can make the rooms cold, so additional blankets are advised.
Is there a TV? How about cable?
CBL and HPL have common rooms open 24 hours a day and have intermittent cable television.
Do I need to bring my own computer?
Each CBL dorm room has one computer jack, and the building offers a Wi-Fi connection. HPL has two computer hook-ups per room and Wi-Fi. In addition to a few communal-use computers in various campus locations, both CBL and HPL have wireless Internet available in their offices and labs.
Are there libraries at the labs?
There are libraries for your use at both labs.
I want to work out while I'm at the lab. Where can I do this?
CBL has an exercise bike, NordicTrack, and the river to swim in. Summer memberships at St. Mary's College Recreation Center and the College of Southern Maryland Recreation Center are available for purchase. HPL has a weight room with one treadmill. Cambridge has a YMCA with cardio and weight machines, free-weight room, basketball courts, and a new indoor pool.
Where can I grocery shop?
Both CBL and HPL have grocery stores nearby.
How often do we get paid?
Students are paid every two weeks. Your first check may be delayed by a couple of weeks, so make sure to bring enough money to get you through the first two weeks of the program. REU students may pick up their paychecks on Fridays at each lab until direct deposit becomes effective (usually two pay periods).
There are a lot of water-based activities during orientation, but I am not a good swimmer. Can I still participate? What about seasickness?
If you are uncomfortable on the water, just keep wearing a life jacket during the orientation cruise. If you are worried about seasickness, you can get a patch or take Dramamine. Some research projects involve little or no fieldwork, so if that is a preference you should let us know so we can consider that when we match you with a mentor.
Is there a guest policy during the fellowship period at the dorms?
Guests need to behave and follow the same rules as everyone else. However, guests should be visitors and not "semi-permanent" residents. Follow the usual rules, be courteous, and let the other residents and housekeeping staff know if you are going to have guests.
If you have additional questions not answered above, please contact Dr. Michael Allen, program coordinator, at email@example.com.